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Mekon River Bridge to Allow Travel From China to Thailand

A new bridge across the Mekong River will make if possible for the first time in history to travel by road from China to Thailand, which should boost regional trade. In Japan, both exports and imports reached record levels in May. Claudia Blume reports business news from VOA's Asia News Center in Hong Kong.

China, Thailand and Laos agreed to build a bridge across the Mekong River linking Chiang Khong in northern Thailand with the Lao town of Houayxay. The bridge is the final link in a new road system through the Mekong region that will make it possible for the first time to travel by land from China's southwestern Yunnan province through Laos to Thailand.

John Cooney, director of the Asian Development Bank's infrastructure division, says the road link is not only significant from a historical point of view, but it is also important for the economic development of the Mekong region.

"What it will do is it will allow a much easier flow of trade, of tourism, of people generally between China and Thailand, and between both places and northern Laos," he said.

The governments of Thailand and China will finance the bridge, which is to be completed by 2011.

Japan's trade surplus rose for a seventh month in a row in May, gaining nine-point-three percent from a year ago to more $3 billion. The country's exports rose more than 15 percent compared with a year earlier to about $53 billion. The growth was mainly boosted by shipments to China and the European Union. Imports also went up about 15 percent in the same month, rising to a record $50 billion.

In other news from Japan, automaker Nissan says it is working on a small car with a rock-bottom price for the Indian market. The company says the car will not cost more than three thousand dollars. Nissan will produce the car with its French alliance partner Renault and an Indian partner.

Nissan is competing against India's Tata Motors, which had earlier announced it will introduce an even cheaper car in the country next year, costing about $2,500.

South Korea's LG Electronics filed a counter-lawsuit against Japan's Hitachi over patents related to plasma display technology. LG is a major manufacturer of plasma display panels used in flat screen televisions.

LG alleges that Hitachi, its U.S. affiliate and its plasma display unit infringed on seven LG patents. The South Korean company filed the lawsuit in the U.S. state of Texas. It follows a similar lawsuit that Hitachi filed against LG Electronics in the same court in April. The Japanese company accused LG Electronics and its U.S. unit of patent infringements on similar technologies.